Corruption sweep boots five more N.J. sewer agency employees, chief finance officer resigns

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In what is shaping up as a broad sweep in the executive offices of the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commissioners, the agency’s chief financial officer stepped down yesterday, and five more employees – mostly connected to commissioners that resigned last week, were fired.

Kenneth Pentigore, the agency’s chief financial officer, handed in his resignation on Wednesday, only one week after six of the agency’s seven commissioners resigned, following  allegations of widespread corruption by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Pentigore was previously a commissioner himself, and was given the CFO job by his former PVSC commissioners.

While he was a commissioner, Pentigore helped get jobs at the PVSC for his son, daughter and daughter-in-law, all of whom still work there.

Critics of the agency had long criticized its commissioners for steering plum jobs to the families of its commissioners and the politically connected, using a formal system similar to the NFL draft, in which commissioners took turns filling job slots.

Those fired in yesterday’s action included the wife and brother of former commissioner Carl Czaplicki, one of the commissioners who resigned last week under pressure from Christie. His wife, Vanessa, was a multimedia technician earning $70,676 per year, and brother John Czaplicki, was a liquid waste specialist making $90,000 per year.

The other fired employees include Kevin Bolan, an $82,500-a-year account clerk; Kevin Holland, an $81,300 EMS coordinator; and Maureen Critchley, an administrative clerk making $66,300.

Four of the employees fired on Wednesday worked for two of the men that were arrested and fired one day earlier, for using agency employees to routinely perform repair and improvement work on their homes, and homes owned by friends and relatives.

The men fired on Tuesday included Anthony Ardis of Paterson, a former commissioner who was serving as a clerk to the board of commissioners and making more than $200,000 per year; Kevein Keogh of Roseland, a superintendent of special services making $186,201 per year; and Chester Mazza, the assistant manager of special services, who was paid $127,276 per year.

The three men face criminal charges of official misconduct for using PVSC employees during working hours to perform tens of thousands of dollars of work on private homes, while under their direction.

Also on Wednesday, authorities discovered a hole in the floor of the office of agency executive director, Wayne Forrest.  The hole connected to a utility room below, and was apparently use for eavesdropping on conversations and meetings in the executive’s office.

After discovering the hole, Forrest asked state police to oversee security at the PVSC Newark facility. “I asked for their assistance to assess the security here,” he said. Police officers will supervise all duties associated with security and review the qualifications of the current PVSC in-house security officers, along with assessing the physical security of the facility, he said.

“We are continuing our efforts for a reorganization of the agency and will be looking at all aspects of its operations,” Forrest said. “It is my intention for a comprehensive review of every function of this agency.”

Information from: The Star-Ledger

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